Variation and change in Norwegian wh-questions: The role of the complementizer som
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionLinguistic variation. 2017, 17 (1), 8-43. 10.1075/lv.17.1.02wes
In this paper, we consider variation in Verb Second (V2) word order in wh-questions across Norwegian dialects by investigating data from the Nordic Syntax Database (NSD), which consists of acceptability judgments collected at more than 100 locations in Norway. We trace the geographical distribution of the two main variables: phrasal vs. monosyllabic wh-elements (the latter argued to be heads) and subject vs. non-subject questions. In subject questions, non-V2 is realized by inserting the complementizer som in second position instead of the verb. We also discuss the connection between non-V2 and the possibility of inserting the complementizer som under extraction of a wh-subject from an embedded clause, i.e. in that-trace contexts. Based on synchronic data, we propose a diachronic account of the geographical distribution and argue that the development from V2 to non-V2 has started in subject questions, thus allowing us to relate the loss of the V2 requirement to changes in the properties of the complementizer som.